Libraries Unlimited South West (Libraries Unlimited), a new not-for-profit organisation created to run Devon’s library service, will go live with cloud-hosted finance software and mobile app from Advanced Exchequer (Advanced) in April 2016. The system will provide real-time financial reporting and give staff access to accounts data while out of the office.
Libraries Unlimited is due to take over the management of the library service from Devon County Council on April 1. The organisation, which has its headquarters in Exeter, will employ more than 300 staff across more than 50 sites. The mobile app will enable managers visiting these sites to access up-to-date financial information, and is a key reason why Advanced was selected from four software providers.
eXchequer365 will be used by senior managers to approve orders on their mobiles, and to access income and expenditure information for each library. The app integrates with the main Exchequer accounting system, which will be used by the managers plus the core finance team, and will be used for general ledger activities including raising orders and paying for goods.
The Library Management System, which is used to order books – a large proportion of the organisations’ expenditure – also integrates with Exchequer. Thousands of transactions can be grouped into one summary which is then imported into the accounting system to provide one simple value for the orders.
Paul Love, Interim Head of Finance and Operations, Libraries Unlimited South West, says, “We were confident that Advanced could provide a system that would be up and running quickly, and we were particularly impressed with the flexibility we can provide to senior managers through the mobile app. The straightforward approach to integrating with other systems is also a huge benefit.
“The organisation is effectively a new start-up and this software is absolutely paramount to us working as efficiently as possible. Being hosted in the cloud by the same supplier is also a key component of this. It means we are not distracted by developing the technical infrastructure, we can concentrate on setting up the organisation and running a high quality service.”
As a service managed by the council, the libraries were administrated using the local authority’s central team and IT system. However, from April 1 the independent organisation will be responsible for the accounts, including debtor management, and as an NFP it is also subject to different financial regulations than a public sector body.
The Exchequer software will automate the debtor management process by generating emails and letters at the appropriate time. It also provides the necessary reports to ensure regulatory compliance, such as Statement Of Recommended Practice (SORP).
Love adds, “Moving away from the corporate systems of the council has provided more options for managing our libraries. As such, we wanted a flexible system that will allow us to hit the ground running with minimum financial bureaucracy and maximum transparency – which is exactly what the Exchequer solution does, especially with its mobile capability.
“This is an exciting phase for Devon’s library services, and this technology has the scalability to support our future development as we continue to grow our award-winning services.”